by Brian Vogt, CEO, Denver Botanic Gardens
There are days when everything looks simply breathtaking and you may wonder why everyone isn’t here. Take the stunning Ellipse Garden, where you can watch an endless parade of people inspecting every inch – they walk slowly to study colors and textures. Clearly, the Ellipse and so many of the Gardens’ nooks and crannies stimulate a
much-needed sense of joy. We should take before and after photos of our visitors, clear evidence that connecting people with plants is a transformative experience.
If trends hold, Denver Botanic Gardens will reach somewhere around 1.4 million visitors this year. So, who exactly, you might ask, is missing out? We have been working with community organizations to find the answer. Many in our society perceive a social barrier, one that imagines the major cultural institutions as not for them. Others face financial difficulties. Even free days can be daunting due to complicated public transportation.
For several years, we have been implementing a solution. Under the leadership of Yvonne Garcia Bardwell and with the generous support of the Clinton Family Fund, we partner with local organizations who work with underserved communities to create their own, customized free day. We provide a shuttle bus, docents and programs that are tailored to each group. Thus far, we have worked with nearly 50 partners, ranging from the Asian Pacific Development Center and the Mexican Cultural Center to Warren Village and the Autism Society of Colorado. These new audiences help the Gardens realize our mission more fully and refresh the spirits of hosts and visitors alike.